To say that the town of West has had a rough time is pretty much the understatement of the year. Since a fertilizer plant exploded, killing 15 people and leaving half the town looking like it had been wiped out by a nuclear bomb, the people of West have been struggling to rebuild and move on from th ... More >>
Investigators are nowhere near declaring what caused the explosion of the fertilizer factory in West April 17. Other investigators, however, have come to their own conclusions, or raised their own questions. Their own nutty, farcical, inane conclusions and questions. They are the West Truthers on ... More >>
Spammers don't care about your political causes or your beliefs. They prey on the innocent and the naive, which is why a recent spate of e-mails I've received using conspiracy theory scare tactics does not surprise me in the least. I am not a "prepper," nor do I fear the end of the world or being j ... More >>
Hurricane Ike can seem like a lifetime ago, but the feds are still doling out the cash to deal with the devastation along the Galveston waterfront. Some of that devastation involved the Elissa, the historic tall ship that has long been giving island visitors a taste of Galveston's past in the age o ... More >>
Desecrating the name of Adolf, a man named Patrick Adolf Prendergast Jr. has been convicted of ripping off FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Ike, the U.S. Attorney's Office has announced. And his parents had such high hopes for him when they gave him his middle name. Prendergast, 54, was convicted of ... More >>
A nationwide test of Emergency Alert System is set for today at 1 p.m. Houston time, when a half-minute message will air on all television and radio stations. The purpose is to test out the preparedness of the system to break into radio and TV channels to give instructions and news in the eve ... More >>
Hopefully you won't be dealing with thisHere in Houston, we generally think about wildfire danger as often as we do earthquakes, which is to say never at all. But the recent fire in George Bush Park shows that the historic drought has made a lot more people vulnerable to a wildfire. So what ... More >>
How far did cardinal go in tearing down Ike-ravaged church?
Go thou and defraudeth FEMA....It was almost two years ago that we wrote about the Fishers of Men scandal, a church in southwest Houston whose pastor and associates were charged with various financial shenanigans.It sparked a comment war between defenders and accusers that lasted so long and got ... More >>
Some blog items never die.Almost a year ago we wrote about the fraud charges filed against officials of the Fishers of Men Worship Center in Houston. To this day, barely a week goes by without someone throwing up another comment on the case, either defending the officials or saying they got what ... More >>
This summer we told you about two locals who had not only been accused of defrauding the federal government, but something far, far more powerful: Oprah Winfrey.Sisters Darlene McGruder Poole and Lashone McGruder Victor were charged in August with filing false information to FEMA in order to get ... More >>
It's one thing to defraud FEMA in the wake of a hurricane. It's another to mess with Oprah.That's the sad, heavy lesson learned by four people named in indictments unsealed this morning by the U.S. Attorney's office. They're charged with, as the feds put it, "wrongfully obtaining rental assistanc ... More >>
Panic, FEMA, empty shelves here's the only Hurricane Guide you'll need this year.
Wherever there's a hurricane, ma, I'll be there...Wherever a FEMA official's handing out a form to fill, I'll be the person scamming them...Wherever -- Well, we don't think the Tom Joad speech at the end of The Grapes of Wrath goes exactly like that, but it would if Phyllis Ann Taylor was saying it. ... More >>
Photo by Katharine ShilcuttWe promised, and we are Promise Keepers! (of a sort).Here's the slideshow of the tea-party protest at Jones Plaza yesterday. Check to see if you made the cut. We are not responsible, however, if the fact that your photo is posted here puts you on a Department of Homeland S ... More >>
It's a milestone of sorts: The last Ike recovery center still operating will close its doors Friday.At one time 130 such centers were open, but now the only one left is at the Galveston Island Community Center on Broadway. It's served 28,000 visitors, FEMA says."The recovery centers provided much-ne ... More >>
Some may never be found.
We've already noted the five biggest local deaths in 2008; now it's time to look at the five deaths that leave the smallest amounts of sympathy or significance.5. The Playoff Chances of the Texans and Astros. Insignificant because really, did anyone expect anything different? The teams blew when the ... More >>
Shortly after Hurricane Ike, San Leon resident Tommy Dixon praised the spirit of his hometown and its will to rebuild by saying "All we need now are FEMA trailers and mosquito repellent."We don't know about the mosquito repellent, but they are getting the FEMA trailers. Two hundred of them are slate ... More >>
If the people you rip off are people who are seeking to themselves rip off the federal government, where's the harm? Don't ask that of Christopher Brian McPherson. He just got five years in a federal prison for seeking the answer to that question. McPherson plead guilty to a fraud scheme that saw ... More >>
The first of four House Select Committee on Hurricane Ike hearings kicked off this morning at the University of Houston Hilton Hotel. Chaired by Rep. Sylvester Turner (we like to call these the “Ike-Turner” hearings), the Committee’s goal, as explained by Turner, “is to come out of these hea ... More >>
It's heartwarming -- an 11-year-old Girl Scout from Houston opening a lemonade stand to help victims of Ike. Sunkist, which has a whole PR effort devoted to getting these lemonade-stand-for-a-cause stories out, was enraptured with Rama Imad and her friends: "They will be raising money for FEMA, in ... More >>
The city of Galveston has released its first damage-assessment maps after Ike. There are three maps listed here. The one most people are interested in is the first, from 61st Street east. Increase the size of the blow-up on the toolbar to, say, 50 percent and you get a pretty good idea of how bad ... More >>
If you're a defendant in a federal criminal case alleging you scammed FEMA in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which of these two things would you least like to hear? a) Your own attorney describing your mental state: "He can function. I mean, he's not like...a raving lunatic. He's not Anthony Hopkin ... More >>
Hardly Knew Ye
Houston doesn't roll over for Ike
Homeowners hit by Ike know that if they want the little-to-somewhat-big things fixed after Ike, they just need to buckle down and do it themselves. But what about renters? Should they wait until their landlord does the job? And what happens, say, if their downstairs neighbor evacuated and the refri ... More >>
Photos by Daniel Kramer / Click here for a slideshow There’s always someone unluckier than you. In the wake of Hurricane Ike, such people were easy to find in the devastated Galveston Bay town of San Leon, as Press photographer Dan Kramer and I found out when we crossed a police checkpoint to ent ... More >>
At least two PODS – Greenspoint and the Fountain of Praise church at 13950 Hillcroft – ran out of MRE’s by midday Tuesday, with officials at the Reliant Center staging center offering scant explanation. Reliant is the check-in and dispatch center for trucks carrying ice, water and MREs to 18 ... More >>
The always sharp-eyed Ubu Roi on bloghouston has noted that the agenda for the upcoming emergency Houston City Council meeting includes approving a contract for debris removal. The cost: $98 million. That's a lot of friggin' debris. As Ubu Roi puts it: "[Agenda item]Number 3.a. is the jaw-dropper ... More >>
You may have noticed Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and Mayor Bill White projecting different attitudes during their joint press conferences in the past few days - White a bit more critical of response efforts, Emmett a bit less willing to engage in what he would presumably think to be finger-pointin ... More >>
The Houston Public Library System is slowly getting back on its feet. The downtown library is open from 10a.m. to 7 p.m. as of now. "The Central Library computer lab will be designated as the Hurricane Ike Assistance Room to file for FEMA aid, insurance claims, and emailing family and friends," the ... More >>
We've just received word from reporters Craig Malisow and Brett Koshkin that the point of distribution center at Harvest Time Church near Greenspoint Mall has plenty of water and ice -- but no food. Sources with the Houston Police Department and the church say that FEMA took over on Monday from the ... More >>
John Nova Lomax just called in with news from Gator Miller, a reporter with Seabreeze News who's down in Dickinson. First things first: Gilhooley's and the Topwater Grill are destroyed. The police department in Dickinson has no power. FEMA is setting something up at McAdam Junior High, but no on ... More >>
Thanks to FEMA's new flood maps, you can move from that neighborhood that flooded to a new neighborhood that, um, will probably flood. Leave it to the foresighted, hyperaware folks at FEMA to release their final flood plain maps of Harris County on such a perfectly overcast, drizzly day. In the b ... More >>
If you were wondering just who would issue this year's Most Depressing Christmas-Related Press Release, we have your answer: The fine folks at FEMA . In a brilliantly understated few sentences, a script for radio public-service announcements succeeds in making us want to slit our wrists, and we did ... More >>
"Don't sweat folks, I've called FEMA!" Well, the nerve... A poll released by Texas Southern University today shows that African-American Houstonians would call upon The Lord Almighty before city or state government during a major disaster. The report found that 83 percent of African Americans ... More >>
"Why yes, we have redecorated the kitchen." A story in your daily information source raises a significant question (cue raspy TV news voice-over guy): "Are the levees in Fort Bend County in trouble?" Dun-dun-duuuuunnnn... Well, no one really knows, it seems. The story makes note that several ma ... More >>
KTRH's shouter has a hissy fit
Check cashers and furniture rental companies take a big chunk out of post-hurricane FEMA checks
Tropical Storm Allison destroyed houses that never quite got fixed, thanks to bureaucratic bungling and cheaters
A group of unsupervised mental patients running from Katrina made it from New Orleans to Houston. Victor Fruge led the way.
It sounds so simple: FEMA purchasing homes flooded by Tropical Storm Allison. Then come the bureaucratic blizzards and personal angst over giving up and getting out.
The City of Houston requires developers in the floodplain to elevate and mitigate -- build houses on higher ground and dig detention ponds for runoff. Except, not always.
Clear Creek is on the rise, and local flood-protection methods have been helpless against it. Soggy residents, tired of being perpetual victims, are ready for a fight.
Houston finally moves on a flood program that could have saved residents millions